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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 933 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

to bring the forum along with the process of following through from that point on; that is, explaining to them what would happen from that point on, involving them in the process of considering what that meant in terms of looking at the issue of deregulation of milk in the ACT.

Mr Speaker, that was at least a month ago. No follow-up at all from the forum has occurred. No interest has been expressed. Nobody has approached the Government's competition policy unit to have further discussions on that question. Mr Speaker, I would suggest to members that they need to step back and look at this from a distance for a minute. Do you really think that the issue of this forum has not been sufficiently charged with emotion to make it unlikely that we are going to be able to deal empirically and completely impartially with that issue through that forum at this stage? Let us be honest with ourselves and ask ourselves that question. The answer, we all know, is: No, it is not going to be possible through that mechanism.

But I am suggesting an alternative mechanism. Let us suppose, Mr Speaker, that our public servants have got it wrong; that they have had their arms twisted by the Government to come up with a particular answer which the Government seems to want - God knows why, but we have this particular answer which the Government wants; they have been forced to come up with a review with a particular result. Let us test it against an independent party, a party with expertise in the area. If you people in this place are serious about your concerns in this area, put it to that test. If you are not, then do not continue the criticisms you have made so far of the process that we have embarked upon.

MR BERRY (5.52): Mr Speaker, the Government has been disingenuous in relation to this matter. Mr Humphries's speech adds to the proof of the Government's position. As he spun a web of deception about the whole arrangement, it became clearer and clearer that the Government has no interest at all in defending the Milk Authority.

Mr Smyth: You were in the first Labor Government. Why did you not defend it then?

MR BERRY: Milo Man, be quiet. I dub you the "Milo Man". Wander aimlessly forth under that banner.

Mr Speaker, the fact of the matter is that the challenge was a cheap trick. The Leader of the Opposition has already informed you that he has written to the Competition Policy Forum to have them examine the matter; and I am sure that they will take up the matter, now that they have been requested to do so. Nobody else has requested them to do so. Your Government's performance on this issue has been deplorable from the word go. Let us not forget your action on the Belconnen pool. It will not be forgotten. Your approach from the word go has been deplorable. You used the competition policy, in another round of deception, to ditch the promised Belconnen pool because you never meant it in the first place.

Mr Speaker, the facts of the matter are fairly plain. The Government has been disingenuous on this issue from the start. The Chief Minister is a dry economist who wants to discard valuable public assets to prop up her failing budget. This is about the sale of assets to fund recurrent spending. It is a clear and simple old trick, which will not be accepted by the community. It is an asset that is owned by the community.

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